You’ve found the rental of your dreams. All you need to do is fill out a few forms and get the keys. But before you pack your bags and sign on the dotted line, ask your future property manager these ten questions.
1. What’s the Guest Policy?
As harmless as it seems to have a pal crash for a few days, some apartments have strict rules regarding overnight guests or future roommates. Check with the property owner to find out if guests can stay overnight—and, if so, how many and for how long. If you’re considering subletting or Airbnb-ing a room, you’ll also want to learn about any restrictions or required fees.
2. Are Pets Allowed?
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding apartment pet policies. Some don’t allow any animals, while others may allow small dogs and cats. If you have a pet or intend to get one, check the lease or ask your property manager. The same goes if you plan on watching a friend’s pet for the day. You may be required to pay a pet security deposit or other pet fees.
3. Can I Install New Home Features?
Just because you rent an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t improve your lifestyle with home automation, from smart lighting to security systems. However, before installing any technology, check the lease terms. Some rentals may have a contract with a particular security company, while others may only allow you to install DIY systems that aren’t hardwired. If you have a specific product in mind, ask the owner.
4. How Can I Get in Touch with Property Management?
It’s important to know where your property management is located and how to communicate with them should you experience a building maintenance problem. Ask how to submit a maintenance request, who to contact in an emergency and how, and how quickly, property management will respond to a request.
5. What Are the Terms of the Security Deposit?
Along with first and last months’ rent, many apartments also require a security deposit. If you are required to pay a deposit, find out if it’s refundable when you move. Legally, security deposits should be refundable, but your property manager can withhold a portion of it should you damage something in the apartment or break the lease. Make sure you have the terms of the deposit in writing.
6. Are There Additional Fees?
Before you budget for your new living expenses, you’ll want to know about any costs your rent doesn’t cover. You may have to pay extra for a covered parking spot; a storage unit; guest keys; pool, gym, or laundry room access; and internet, cable, and landline services. Inquire about prices and if these fees are required, should you prefer to use another gym or laundry service, for example.
7. Does the Rent Cover Utilities?
Depending on the apartment building, some of your utilities, such as water, may be included in your rent, while others—like electricity, gas, landscaping, and trash pickup—may be charged separately. Confirm which utilities you are responsible for and whether you’ll need to manage an individual account with your local utility company to turn on service before moving in.
8. How Do They Prepare the Apartment Before I Move in?
The last thing you want to do when moving into a new place is clean up a previous tenant’s mess. Ask your property manager what they will do to prepare the apartment, from steaming the carpets to fixing a leaky faucet. You should also find out if the locks to your apartment will be changed before you move in.
9. How and When Do I Pay Rent?
The best way to stay on the owner’s good side is to pay rent on time and in full. Find out when rent is due each month and where to submit payment, whether you drop it off at the property manager’s unit or mail it to a particular address. You’ll also want to know when a payment is considered late and what the late fee is if there is one.
10. What Am I Responsible for as a Tenant?
Most apartment renters aren’t responsible for lawn care or cleaning communal areas, but you may be expected to maintain other areas. If you have a small garden or balcony, ask the property manager if you’re required to overlook its upkeep. If your oven or air-conditioning unit breaks, will management fix it or charge a fee? Make sure you know what areas you must maintain.
Signing a lease is a big commitment. Keep the process as smooth as possible by speaking with your future property manager and getting these questions answered before moving in. If your next big move is with your significant other, check out this handy compilation of facts, too!
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